DAO 96:29-43 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02362

Emergence of Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus in the North American Great Lakes region is ­associated with low viral genetic diversity

Tarin M. Thompson1, William N. Batts1, Mohamed Faisal2, Paul Bowser3, James W. Casey3, Kenneth Phillips4, Kyle A. Garver5, James Winton1, Gael Kurath1,*

1Western Fisheries Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, 6505 NE 65th Street, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
2Aquatic Animal Medicine, Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, S-110 Plant Biology Building, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA
3Aquatic Animal Health Program, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
4La Crosse Fish Health Center, USFWS, 555 Lester Avenue, Onalaska, Wisconsin 54650, USA
5Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia V9T 6N7, Canada

ABSTRACT: Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) is a fish rhabdovirus that causes disease in a broad range of marine and freshwater hosts. The known geographic range includes the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and recently it has invaded the Great Lakes region of North Ame­rica. The goal of this work was to characterize genetic diversity of Great Lakes VHSV isolates at the early stage of this viral emergence by comparing a partial glycoprotein (G) gene sequence (669 nt) of 108 isolates collected from 2003 to 2009 from 31 species and at 37 sites. Phylogenetic analysis showed that all isolates fell into sub-lineage IVb within the major VHSV genetic group IV. Among these 108 isolates, genetic diversity was low, with a maximum of 1.05% within the 669 nt region. There were 11 unique sequences, designated vcG001 to vcG011. Two dominant sequence types, vcG001 and vcG002, accounted for 90% (97 of 108) of the isolates. The vcG001 isolates were most widespread. We saw no apparent association of sequence type with host or year of isolation, but we did note a spatial pattern, in which vcG002 isolates were more prevalent in the easternmost sub-regions, including inland New York state and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Different sequence types were found among isolates from single disease outbreaks, and mixtures of types were evident within 2 isolates from ­individual fish. Overall, the genetic diversity of VHSV in the Great Lakes region was found to be extremely low, consistent with an introduction of a new virus into a geographic region with ­previously naïve host populations.


KEY WORDS: Emerging infectious diseases · Fish disease · Fish rhabdovirus · Genotyping · Molecular epidemiology · Phylogenetic analysis · Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus · Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus · VHSV


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Cite this article as: Thompson TM, Batts WN, Faisal M, Bowser P and others (2011) Emergence of Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus in the North American Great Lakes region is ­associated with low viral genetic diversity. Dis Aquat Org 96:29-43. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02362

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